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Challenging times for the dental profession

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The last thirteen months have been challenging for all businesses, but especially, for the dental profession. Dental practices had to remain closed during the first lockdown and, since reopening last summer, have had to adhere to strict social distancing, hygiene and cleaning regimes. This has impacted on their capacity to treat patients, with a corresponding negative affect on turnover and profitability. As a result, a significant number of private practices have made use of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the Business Bounce Back Loan Scheme. NHS practices have faced restrictions in respect of the use of government support, such as the furlough scheme.

It’s against this backdrop that NHS England and the British Dental Association (BDA) have announced that they hope to move forward with the long-awaited reforms to the NHS Dental Contract. One of the aims of this reform is that the changes are designed in cooperation with, and supported by, the dental profession. The reform also aims to improve dental health for all patients, with a focus on preventive dentistry; improved access for patients, especially in areas of deprivation; and affordability for the NHS. Whether these aims can be achieved remains to be seen. This summer, the results from the dental contract reform prototypes will be published as the first step to reforming the contract.

In the meantime, NHSE has announced the contract arrangements for the six months to 30 September 2021. They’ve confirmed that dental contracts for 2021/22 will be in place for 100% of normal, pre-pandemic volumes. However, a claw-back won’t occur, provided that the practice can deliver 60% of the contracted UDAs (units of dental activity) and 80% of contracted UOAs (units of assessment). The payment for the UDAs/UOAs not delivered will continue to be restricted on the basis that no variable costs have been incurred.

Despite the impact of the pandemic on practice turnover, many dentists with significant NHS pensions continue to have issues with the pension Annual Allowance and haven’t yet taken specialist advice to consider whether this impacts them. If this applies to you, we recommend that you get advice to identify any issues and take the necessary action.

It isn’t surprising that many dentists are considering their options, and some are bringing forward their retirement plans and selling their practices. For dentists at an earlier stage of their careers, the current environment is opening up opportunities for acquiring practices or expanding an existing practice.

In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to speak to a specialist accountant, with knowledge of both the NHS Dental Contract and the NHS Pension Scheme.

Need help?

We offer an initial meeting, free of charge, where we can discuss the issues above and how we can work with you to advise on accountancy and tax matters, for both you and your business.

Please get in touch with your usual Larking Gowen contact. You can find contact details on the Our People section of our website. Alternatively, call 0330 024 0888 or email

 Melanie Garrett


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Larking Gowen


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